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Working Paper No. 10/2012

UCL Anthropology Working Papers Series


Department of Anthropology
University College London
14 Taviton Street, London
WC1H 0BW, U.K.

ISSN 1759-6688
Editorial Board: Andrea Migliano, Charles Stewart

Working Paper No. 10/2012
Published online Feruary 04, 2012
© Copyright rests with the authors

DISPENSING KNOWLEDGE AND SHAPING EXPERIENCE: THE ROLE OF POPULAR MEDIA IN THE LIVES OF WOMEN WITH PRE MENSTRUAL DYSPHORIC DISORDER

JANE ROBERTS

Dissertation submitted in 2011 for the Medical Anthropology MSc

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ABSTRACT

This dissertation focuses on the impact various forms of popular media have on shaping the illness experience in women with Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). In looking primarily at the direct to consumer advertising of psycho pharmaceuticals, and the advent of new media in the form of online support communities, it seeks to show how the disorder has been manufactured and perpetuated as a result of the circulation of lay medical information acquired from various media outlets. It begins with a chapter devoted the conceptual frameworks that grounded this research: those of social construction of illness and cybernetic theories of information sharing. It moves on to examine the role of media in providing knowledge, shaping women’s sense of themselves and their ideas of what constitutes normal versus pathological behavior, and presenting the possibility of a new identity built around the diagnosis of PMDD. The methods used included theoretical literature review, content analysis of advertisements, and narrative analysis of semi-structured interviews and online blog posts.


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